Dom Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori
Abbot General OCist
ARE WE FAITHFUL TO OUR VOCATION?
This year I think with particular gratitude of the visits to Vietnam, Brazil and Ethiopia, but also those to the United States and Europe. Following the General Chapter of 2015 we had a week’s course for superiors at Rome, with fifty participants, including all the superiors of Africa and Vietnam and almost all the Brazilians. This was an astonishing time of
brotherhood and fraternity, perhaps assisted by beginning the work of each day with a moment of biblical sharing in groups.
One question concerns me more and more, are we faithful to our vocation? We chose this theme for the Chapter of the Brazilian Congregation, and decided to go deeper into the question also at the Synod of the Order in July 2017, ensuring that all the communities worked on this question. It is also a worry which accompanies me on visits to communities everywhere. I have the impression that pretty well everywhere we engage in activity to achieve projects, even very good ones, and usually expensive, but we do not take trouble to be faithful to our vocation. Are we comfortable with this important question? Are we comfortable about our fundamental vocation and what it means to be faithful? However, this unease, which is something positive if it leads us to investigate the question together, carries with it signs of hope.
For example, when we give ourselves times and opportunities for formation which help us to deepen our vocation and to improve our understanding of the demands it makes upon us, this increases our moments of friendship during which we share the search for such fidelity, the desire to deepen and purify it. Often groups of superiors who share a common language spontaneously come together, and these groups meet regularly to work together on Cistercian friendship.
It is a sign of hope also when we seek out occasions to share experiences rather than to study. It is rare that mere study helps to deepen our monastic vocation. Study is more of a distraction, or even a flight (sometimes without any return), unless it is offered within a framework which also forms the essential elements of our vocation. This is what the annual month’s Course of Monastic Formation at Rome (with students from Cistercians, Benedictines, Trappists, Bernardines and Camaldolese) seeks to offer, or the course at the College San Bernardo at the Generalate of our Order. But it is a difficult task.
A seedbed for this will be the course for superiors and formators which we have planned for February 2017 in Vietnam, for about eighty monks and nuns, Cistercians, Benedictines and Bernardines, to be an occasion for Asiatics and Europeans to join in deepening fidelity to our vocation by concentrating on the theme of accompaniment. Another fine sign of hope is when all kinds of community weaknesses are lived out as opportunities for us to concentrate on our essential vocation, which is always possible right up to the end. ‘Be faithful until death’ (Revelation 2.11).
Perhaps the prophesy of all the most redolent of Easter which could be given to the Church and to the world of today is that of taking the risk, mad but shining with love, of unconditional help for frail communities.